Meet America’s Best Employers For Diversity 2022
I cover stories at the intersection of business and race
Apr 26, 2022,09:45am EDT
Over the past two years, the focus on racial disparities has put a spotlight on several industries. The impact of Covid-19 on the lives and livelihoods of Black families has raised questions about healthcare equity. The economic fallout for Black workers and Black-owned businesses has once again illustrated the need for financial inclusion and access to capital. Meanwhile, remote learning has turned attention to the disparities in resources and academic outcomes for students in underserved communities.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that those sectors have been laggards in embracing the importance of racial diversity in serving the underserved. However, the devastating impact of Covid-19, combined with heightened attention to racial inequities following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, appears to be having some impact. Although far from sufficient, those sectors made the greatest gains in addressing one of the key factors in advancing representation in Forbes’ 2022 list of America’s Best Employers for Diversity.
This year’s list features a higher proportion of companies in banking and financial services, the healthcare and social sector, and education. Each sector increased its presence on the 500-company list, with each making up 8% of the list versus 6% last year.
“The impact of Covid-19 took the world by storm and revealed the magnitude of inequalities that exist in communities of color, especially Black- and minority-owned businesses,” John Patton, head of U.S. diversity and inclusion at TD Bank, told Forbes in an email. “To stay on track and continue on our path to diversify talent across the organization, we’ve enhanced our focus on diversity and inclusion and we report on our progress annually as part of our Environment, Social and Governance Reporting suite.”
This commitment helped earn TD Bank No. 9 on our fifth annual list of America’s Best Employers for Diversity. Forbes partnered with market research firm Statista to survey 60,000 Americans working for businesses with at least 1,000 employees and pinpoint the companies they identified as most dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion. Respondents were asked to rate their organizations on criteria such as age, gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation equality, as well as that of general diversity. More than 10,000 companies were reviewed and roughly 2,000 were given a diversity score, which takes into account surveys of a firm’s diverse employees and its publicly disclosed information about representation.
Statista found that some of the best-performing companies on the list have tangible action plans and initiatives aimed at providing support and representation for diverse employees. That includes initiatives such as leadership programs that target underrepresented groups and women. According to Statista, 16% of researched companies had women CEOs, and 31% had executive leadership and board positions filled by women. More than 55% had an executive leadership position with the explicit task of promoting diversity and inclusion.
Despite the progress companies have reported in increasing diversity, much work remains. A case in point is ChristianaCare in Newark, Delaware, which set a goal in July 2020 to grow the number of people of color in leadership roles there by 15% in three years.
Caregivers from ChristianaCare's Pride Employee Resource Group and Inclusion & Diversity department celebrated Pride Month with a special flag-raising ceremony on ChristianaCare campuses to symbolize the organization's commitment to diversity and inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Ranked at No. 40 on the list, the company is on track, growing to 46 from 41 since July 2020, a 12% increase. However, the percentage of non-white employees ranked at or above director level actually got smaller, from 15.9% that summer to 14.7% today. In other words, the growth rate for managers of color was slower than that of the overall pool.
“I saw this 12% increase, and I got excited. And then I saw that the overall percentage went down, and I stopped being excited,” says Pamela Ridgeway, the chief diversity officer and vice president of talent at the 13,000-employee healthcare system. She says she’s encouraged, though, and that experience taught her to celebrate wins and set new targets.
The healthcare industry is under pressure to improve DEI-related outcomes given some of its glaring racial disparities in health outcomes, such as higher death rates for Black women in maternal care. The mandate for many DEI healthcare leaders has included lowering racial disparities within employee and patient populations, and the belief is that the former can help with the latter.
“We are bad to Black patients, and we’re bad to Latino patients,” says José Rodríguez, associate vice president for health equity, diversity and inclusion at the University of Utah Health system, referring generally to outcomes in the healthcare industry. The Rocky Mountain-based healthcare system ranked No. 41. “However, there’s emerging data that shows when you have more Black providers, the health outcomes for your Black patients go up. And the same is true for your Latino population. So we’re working to end disparities.”
Progressive Insurance and technology company VMware ranked first and second, respectively, on the list this year, up last year from No. 20 for Progressive and No. 11 for VMware. Progressive’s DEI related efforts include a “Dare to Disagree” diversity workshop, while VMware has won acclaim for its efforts around disability inclusion.
Adobe, which ranked No. 6, has a number of efforts underway, including partnerships with historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-serving Institutions, and the Equity and Advancement Initiative. The latter initiative involves collaborating with 11 nonprofit organizations and is designed in part to foster discussions around issues of importance to diverse populations, such as voter rights.
“We really want to make sure we create an ecosystem outside of Adobe that enables us to see around corners,” says Brian Miller, chief talent, diversity and inclusion officer at Adobe. “So where companies can get very reactive … we wanted to start creating organizations that allow us to get in front of that conversation and then tie them to our employee networks.”
For the full list of America’s Best Employers For Diversity, click here.
To determine the list, Statista surveyed 60,000 Americans working for businesses with at least 1,000 employees. All the surveys were anonymous, allowing participants to openly share their opinions. Respondents were first asked to rate their organizations on criteria such as age, gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation equality, as well as that of general diversity. These responses were reviewed for potential diversity gaps. Statista then asked respondents belonging to underrepresented groups to nominate organizations other than their own. The final list ranks the 500 employers that not only received the most recommendations but also boast the most diverse boards and executive ranks and the most proactive diversity and inclusion initiatives. The survey period ran from September to October 2021.